I write this post from the lens of an independently published author. However, I’m sure it resonates with those who are traditionally published as well. As an avid reader of historical romance, you are on the finished side of creative work. Have you ever considered what it is like to be the creator of that story you hold? Here are some brutally honest thoughts on what it’s like to write a book, and why it consists of a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.
The Blood – The life of a book is in the blood. Authors create characters out of thin air and give them life. They’ve chosen their names, where they live, their personalities, their backgrounds, and the paths they will walk to find love. When an author pours their soul into any creative work, they bleed. A part of them becomes imprinted on the page. Woven into the creation are their thoughts, struggles, and life experiences that are hidden between chapters and in the prose.
Once created, it’s released to the public. Authors tend to bleed when a reviewer writes a snide or hateful review. Whether the work is a Nobel Prize-worthy piece of literature or a run-of-the-mill self-published Kindle creation, authors are very attached to their stories regardless of the love and hate they may receive from readers. As a result, every book produces some drops of blood during and after the creative process. Even popular authors bleed. Here is a good quote:
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
The Sweat – It’s the hours writing. It’s the voices in an author’s head demanding to be heard. It’s the plotting. It’s the point of view. It’s the tense. It’s the overused words. It’s the dialogue. It’s the punctuation. It’s those grammar classes we never paid attention to in grade school coming back to bite us. It’s the hours of research, and finally, those damn typos that never seem to go away. Frankly, it’s hard work. You bleed and sweat, and your reward for the hours you took to create a story is a 35 cent royalty from a 99 cent priced book.
After a writer finishes writing and editing, there is plenty of work before release. It’s the formatting, the cover art, the copyright registration, the Library of Congress, the ISBN assignment, and working with distributors. After release, comes the expense and sweat of marketing. On top of that, you sweat worrying what people will think about it and hope you don’t have to bleed too much when the comments start rolling in. Writing a book can be stinky business as this author states:
“Sometimes the ideas just come to me. Other times I have to sweat and almost bleed to make ideas come. It’s a mysterious process, but I hope I never find out exactly how it works.”
J. K. Rowling
The Tears – Tears can arrive for many reasons when writing a book. They could be author tears of self-doubt. Authors are not all confident arrogant individuals. Remember this quote from the Oscars in 2014? No wonder we cry.
“The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying thing. Isolated, neurotic, caffeine-addled, crippled by procrastination, consumed by feelings of panic, self-loathing, and soul-crushing inadequacy. And that’s on a good day.”
Robert De Niro
The tears also arrive because authors are emotionally involved in their characters and story. Sometimes their character’s journey reminds them of their own hurt inside, and they cry while writing. At other moments, it raises empathy for the plight of others having to live the situations we create on paper. Emotional involvement in characters is an inevitable part of being an author. Without it, characters are dry and lifeless. Consider this quote:
“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.”
Then there are tears of release when an author holds the printed book and flips through the pages. They feel a sense of pride and accomplishment in what they have created. Authors also cry when people trash their work, and shed tears of joy when people praise their stories.
Is the blood, sweat, and tears worth it all? Yes.
I first knew I wanted to write in grade school. It’s been ingrained in my brain, imprinted on my soul, and a driving force behind my fingers. It’s foolish for me to think that I’m terrific at my craft because I’m not. I’m an average Jane out in the world of thousands of books released each year. I’m continually learning how to write better. Sometimes I want to quit, but I’m afflicted, as this quote declares:
“I think all writing is a disease. You can’t stop it.”
William Carlos Williams
So the next time you pick up your Kindle or a paperback, remember you are not holding a new historical romance book — you are holding the blood, sweat, and tears of an individual who wrote the story.
In conclusion, I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes about writing as explained by Winston Churchill.
“Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with it is a toy then an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then it becomes a tyrant and, in the last stage, just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.”